For all her accomplishments, the millionaire mare Star Parade has never been able to win successive races. That dubious distinction held when the even-money choice in Saturday's $168,000 Milady Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) came up a head short of the winning Proposed after a stretch-long drive to the wire at Hollywood Park.
Proposed, ridden to victory by Patrick Valenzuela, won for the fourth time in as many tries at Hollywood Park.
Actually, Star Parade, with Martin Pedroza aboard, and Proposed, the 3-2 second choice in the field of five fillies and mares, both looked beaten in upper stretch as the 9-1 shot Somethinaboutlaura edged her way to the front. But Proposed, who had set a sharp pace along the inside under pressure from Somethinaboutlaura and appeared to be tiring, and Star Parade, who wasn't responding and came under strong urging from Pedroza on the final turn, dug down deep in the 1 1/16-mile event.
"She's a great filly and she just seems to get better and better as she matures," Valenzuela said of Proposed, who won for the second time at the meet and the third time in five 2006 starts. "She responded great when I really got after her. I've never really had to get after her before, but today I had to, and that's what made the difference."
Pedroza had no complaints with Star Parade's effort.
"She still ran her heart out," he said. "She broke a little flat-footed leaving the gate, but other than that she recovered right away. She just got beat today. There's always the next one."
Somethinaboutlaura, ridden by Victor Espinoza, ended up three-quarters of length behind Star Parade. The final time for the 1 1/16-mile event for fillies and mares was 1:42 4/5.
The 4-year-old Proposed became a two time grade II winner for owners/breeders Mr. and Mrs. Martin Wygod and trainer John Shirreffs after taking the El Encino (gr. II) at Santa Anita in January. The last time she met Star Parade, in the Santa Maria Handicap (gr. I) a month after the El Encino, the 7-year-old Star Parade was a two-length winner.
A daughter of Benchmark-Quiet Romance (Bertrando), Proposed was coming off a three-length win the B Thoughtful Stakes for California breds. She has won seven of 13 in her career with earnings of $545,600. Saturday's winning share was $110,400.
Proposed broke smartly from her rail post position to establish herself in front of Star Parade, who was sent from the gate by Pedroza but had to settle into third place as Somethinaboutlaura moved into a tracking spot on the outside heading into the clubhouse turn. Proposed set a quick clip – :23, :45 3/5 and 1:09 – as Somethinaboutlaura put her head in front on the final turn. Star Parade came off the rail on the turn but was not making an impression until mid-stretch. Proposed, battling back along the inside, regained the lead inside the furlong marker as all three contenders finished willingly.
The co-top weight with Star Parade at 120 pounds, Proposed paid $5, $2.40, and $2.10. The Argentine-bred Star Parade, who was coming off a 1 3/4-length win in the Hawthorne Handicap (gr. III) last month, returned $2.20 and $2.10. Somethinaboutlaura was $2.10 to show.
Freakin Streakin finished fourth and Memorette trailed throughout. In something of an oddity, the horses order of finish followed their saddle numbers: 1-2-3-4-5.